- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump tried to block Vice President Mike Pence from hiring his pick for national security adviser.
- Trump was reportedly furious over Pence’s decision to hire Jon Lerner, who he believes was part of the “Never Trump” movement during the 2016 election.
- Pence managed to convince Trump about Lerner, but the incident points to Trump’s continual desire for loyalty from his associates.
President Donald Trump reportedly tried to block Vice President Mike Pence’s pick for his national security adviser.
Trump was fuming over Pence’s decision to hire Jon Lerner, the deputy to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, because he believes Lerner was once a “Never Trumper,” three sources told Axios.
“Why would Mike do that?” Trump reportedly said.
On Friday, Trump reportedly ordered chief of staff John Kelly to stop Pence from hiring Lerner, but Pence seemed to change Trump’s mind in a phone call from Peru where his plane had just landed ahead of the Summit of the Americas.
As a longtime Republican pollster, Lerner was seen to be coordinating an anti-Trump movement within the GOP during the 2016 election, according to Politico. During campaigning, Lerner advised a super PAC that supported Marco Rubio and was a strategist for the conservative group Club for Growth, which spent millions airing anti-Trump ads.
According to Axios, some of the pushback from staffers against Lerner focused on his ability to remain Haley’s deputy while working full-time for Pence, while others were concerned about his national security experience – though Lerner was in the situation room during Friday’s strikes on Syria.
Trump’s initial inclination to ditch Lerner is another example of the president’s perceived desire to prioritize loyalty above all else. He reportedly considered rescinding Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court after questioning whether he would be “loyal” and, infamously, held a dinner with former FBI Director James Comey where Comey says he was asked to pledge his “loyalty” to the president.
Comey’s first book, “A Higher Loyalty,” will be released next week after a highly-anticipated interview on ABC’s “20/20” Sunday evening.